News in Brief 21 March 2016 (PM)

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Stop killing journalists. Photo: UNESCO

UNESCO condemns murder of Brazilian journalist

The murder of a journalist in Brazil has been condemned by the head of the UN cultural agency, UNESCO.

João Valdecir de Borba, a former crime reporter who recently switched to hosting a music programme, was shot by two unidentified gunmen while live on air on 10 March.

Valdecir de Borba had received multiple death threats prior to his murder, which occurred in the southern state of Paraná.

In a statement issued on Monday, UNESCO Executive Director Irina Bokova stressed the importance of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

She said that the attack "affects all media workers and their ability to carry out their essential work."

Israel urged to investigate arson attack on Palestinian home

Israel is being urged by a senior UN official to promptly investigate an arson attack on a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank.

Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid for the occupied Palestinian territory, has issued a statement condemning the attack which took place on Sunday in the village of Duma.

He said Jewish extremists are suspected.

A Palestinian man and his wife sustained light injuries due to smoke inhalation during in the attack.

Mr Piper said the man is related to a family whose home, located in the same village, was firebombed last July.

According to the UN official, he is also the sole witness to that incident, which caused the deaths of a toddler and his parents.

Caste systems violating rights of millions worldwide: human rights expert

At least 250 million people across the world are victims of "appalling and dehumanizing discrimination" as a result of caste systems.

That's according to an independent expert, presenting her first report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Rita Izsák-Ndiaye explained that the term "caste" refers to a strict hierarchical social system usually based around ideas of purity and contamination.

She described it as a global problem, affecting communities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and in various diaspora communities.

People considered to be from "lower castes" often are limited to jobs which others see as "polluting" or menial, such as scavenging, sweeping or disposing of dead animals.

The expert hoped her report will be used as an advocacy tool by people affected by caste systems and those working to abolish these practices.

However, she pointed out that even just discussing caste can be taboo, meaning that not only are legal and political solutions required, but also changing mindsets and even the "collective conscience" of communities.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2'48"

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